From Our Bureau    

2ND JULY 2020

The Corona Virus (COVID-19) pandemic situation remained grim globally, with the confirmed cases across the world soaring to 1,05,33,779 and the death toll reaching 5,12,842 in the 216 affected countries and territories, according to the latest update from the World Health Organization (WHO).

Globally, American region continued to be the worst-hit with 53,17,792 confirmed cases and 2,52,340 deaths. Europe came next with 27,47,810 confirmed cases and 1,98,405 deaths. Eastern Mediterranean region reported 10,96,565 confirmed cases and 25,517 deaths.

South-East Asia region’s tally stood at 8,33,735 confirmed cases and 22,769 deaths. Western Pacific region recorded 2,18,704 confirmed cases and 7,458 deaths and African region registered 3,18,432 confirmed cases and 6,340 deaths. WHO Risk Assessment at global level remained very high.

WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has emphasized the importance of taking a comprehensive approach to responding to the pandemic. “Not testing alone. Not physical distancing alone. Not contact tracing alone. Not masks alone. Do it all,” he said at yesterday’s regular media briefing.

In Turkey, a WHO-backed helpline has been created to provide psychosocial health support to persons affected by mental health issues in the wake of COVID-19. The helpline reaches all of Turkey’s 81 provinces, and has provided over 80,000 consultations since March 2020.

While countries have had to de-prioritise non-urgent care to make way for COVID-19 patients, maternal and child health is one area that cannot be put on hold. In the WHO European region, examples from Italy, Germany and Israel show that swift recalibration of healthcare has helped maintain essential services, thereby protecting the well-being of pregnant women and their babies.

The WHO Regional Director for the Americas, Dr Carissa F. Etienne, said countries planning to relax public health measures must take a phased approach based on local conditions and be prepared to impose preventive measures again if the epidemiological situation changes.

The WHO representative, Dr Akjemal Magtymova, shared her professional and personal experience of taking up her new duty station in Syria amid the restrictions brought about by COVID-19, as well as challenges in responding to the pandemic in a conflict area.

Subject in Focus:

Updated guidance on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC)

WHO has updated the interim guidance on infection prevention and control during healthcare when coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is suspected or confirmed. This is the third edition of the guidance and expands the scope and structure of earlier guidance, bringing together other interim recommendations as well as considerations and advice from subject matter experts.

The main differences and additions compared to the previous versions include the following: expansion of all sub-sections to include clarifications and further recommendations;  addition of new guidance and practical advice for the management of visitors especially in areas with COVID-19 community transmission; inclusion of a sub-section on ventilation in the section “Environmental and engineering controls”; new guidance on IPC considerations for surgical procedures for patients with suspected or confirmed COVID-19, as well as those patients whose COVID-19 status is unknown; updated considerations for dead body management in healthcare facilities; and practical advice and tools to assess healthcare facility IPC readiness and to monitor and evaluate IPC measures for COVID-19.

This guidance is intended for health workers, including healthcare managers and IPC teams at the facility level, but it is also relevant for the national and district/provincial levels. (eom)

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